Quinones v Joan & Sanford I. Weill Med. Coll., 2014 NY Slip Op 00882 [1st Dept. 2014]

While acknowledging that an extension would be warranted by an attorney's illness, a death in the family, or a computer breakdown caused by Hurricane Sandy, the court saw no justification for granting an extension in this case. The court's view was that the excuse offered was a perfunctory claim of law office failure, and did not rise to the level of good cause.

In seeking to reverse the appealed order, defendant claims that CPLR 3212(a) requires a showing of good cause for a late summary judgment motion only when the motion is made more than 120 days after the filing of the note of issue. When a party fails to comply with a court-imposed deadline of less than 120 days, defendant argues, the operative statutory provision is CPLR 2004, under which "law office failure" may be considered a factor supporting a finding of good cause. Defendant further contends that, even under CPLR 3212(a), it has demonstrated good cause for its failure to move within the court-imposed time limit.

It is uncontroverted that defendant's motion was not timely under the schedule set by the preliminary conference order dated January 5, 2011. As the Court of Appeals has repeatedly reiterated, court-ordered time frames are requirements to be taken seriously by the parties (see Gibbs v St. Barnabas Hosp., 16 NY3d 74, 81 [2010]; Miceli v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 3 NY3d 725 [2004]; Brill v City of New York, 2 NY3d 648, 652 [2004]). Contrary to the distinction defendant seeks to draw, it does not matter whether a motion for summary judgment has been made more than 120 days after the filing of the note of issue or after the expiration of a shorter time limit set by a court order or stipulation. Whatever the source of the deadline with which a party fails to comply, the lateness may not be excused without a showing of good cause within the meaning of CPLR 3212(a) — a showing of something more than mere law office failure (see Polanco v Creston Ave. Props., Inc., 84 AD3d 1337, 1341 [2d Dept 2011]; Powell v Kasper, 84 AD3d 915, 917 [2d Dept 2011]; Deberry-Hall v County of Nassau, 88 AD3d 634, 635 [2d Dept 2011]; Fine v One Bryant Park, LLC, 84 AD3d 436 [1st Dept 2011]; Riccardi v CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 60 AD3d 838 [2d Dept 2009]; Giudice v Green 292 Madison, LLC, 50 AD3d 506 [1st Dept 2008]; Glasser Abramovitz, 37 AD3d 194 [1st Dept 2007]). Since the excuse proffered by defendant — that its counsel inadvertently overlooked the date set in the January 5, 2011 preliminary conference order — is a perfunctory claim of law office failure, the motion court providently exercised its discretion in denying defendant's motion.

Emphasis mine.

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